Standardized tests are something that every student eventually has to tackle. These tests are essential, either for getting into college, or for moving on to post-secondary education. Standardized tests are also quite intimidating; most people find them daunting, and that comes from not knowing how to study for them. This article will highlight some key tips on how to study for standardized tests.
- Space Out the Studying: Procrastination is the main cause of students cramming last minute, and that will not give good results on standardized tests. Research shows that spacing out study sessions will help the retention of material long-term (1). So, to get better results, students should create a studying schedule, and stick to it. By studying over a longer period of time, students will retain more, and do better when the test comes.
- Use Paper Materials, Not Electronic: This isn’t a very common studying tip, but it has been proven to be more effective. A study done by the Coast Guard Leadership Development Center compared the test scores of students who used paper materials to study, and those who used electronic materials to study (2). They found that students who used paper materials to study had a frequency of higher scores for both multiple-choice and short answer questions. People using paper materials retain more, and are less likely to multi-task, which can actually harm someone’s studying (3).
- Take Practice Tests: Taking practice tests is essential when it comes to studying for standardized tests. This method is called retrieval practice, and it has shown to be more effective for studying then the typical memorization studying, even for students under stress (4). By familiarizing themselves with practice tests, students studying can get a better understanding of how the test works, as well as what kinds of methods should be used for answering questions.
- Don’t Overlearn: One of the biggest problems with studying is people tend to overlearn, which can often do more harm then good. A study done by a Stanford researcher found that people who study and do homework too often have both physical and mental health issues that stem from a lack of balance in their lives. One of the most important tips for studying for a standardized test is for people to not over-work themselves in the process. Students should make sure that during this time they have adequate time for sleeping, eating and drinking, and relaxing.
There are also some minor studying tips that may help people, including:
- Listening to music while studying
- Changing studying locations
- Eating something while studying
- Writing things down while studying
- Having outside help from a friend or teacher
Finally, students need to be positive. Students often put huge amounts of pressure on themselves to get high scores on tests, which leads to unnecessary stress. Most students, if they have studied correctly, will pass the standardized tests they need to. They just need to walk into the test with confidence that they did what they needed to do, and they will pass.